One secret of the Dom Perignon style is its subtle and intriguing balance of youth and maturity. This balance allows the wine to age gracefully for an unlimited time.
The Oenotheque label indicates that a Dom Perignon vintage has reached either its second peak in maturity, with optimized intensity (15 to 20 years after harvest), or its third peak, with optimized complexity (after 30 years on the lees). It is only the cellar master who can determine when the wine has reached that optimal stage in its evolution, and only then will it be released as an Oenotheque.
To guarantee its excellence, each and every Oenotheque bottle is tasted at disgorging by a Dom Perignon winemaker.
- FRA - Champagne
100 PointsDom Pérignon Oenothèque 1996 is not only one of the greatest Dom Pérignons of all, ranking among the top few champagnes on the shelves this year, but it’s on the rise. Scoring it 99 points on its release in 2011, I wrote, ‘Most profound of all, it’ll get even better’. This year, impossibly, fresher still, a perfect 100. Oenothèque 1996 is almost completely devoid of time evolution. Never have I tasted a champagne of this age of such sheer energy, drive and acid tension. Alongside 2004, 2003 and 1990, this was the palest wine on the table, achingly youthful in its lemon blossom breath. In the ultimate contradiction, there is an airy lightness to its finesse, drawn out with a high-strung poise that belies the dehydrated concentration and low ripeness that marked this bizarre and inimitable vintage. Its mineral texture is an epiphany, dancing with fairy lightness on a stage of solid chalk. Dom Pérignon absolutely, finally and resoundingly silences the question on the lips of critics and connoisseurs for the past 17 years: Will the perfect 10/10 season of 1996 (10g/L acidity and 10 degrees of potential alcohol) ever find balance between its intoxicating concentration and its searing acidity? It will and, my goodness, it has. Richard Geoffroy believes it will live forever. This time, I’m a believer.
100 Points, Drink: 2013-2026 Tyson Stelzer, tysonstelzer.com
The 1996 Dom Perignon OEenotheque offers up layers of pastry, lemon, smoke and toastiness. At first deceptively understated, the wine turns positively explosive and layered on the palate, showing remarkable tension, elegance and power, all wrapped around a seriously intense frame. The balance between fruit and acidity is awesome. This is a marvelous DP OEeno. The OEeno is the same juice as the regular Dom Perignon, except the OEeno is aged on the cork while the regular DP is aged in crown-sealed bottles. Once disgorged, the OEenos gets a slightly lower dosage than is typical for the original release DP. This bottle was disgorged in 2008. Anticipated maturity: 2012-2026. Rating 97 - Antonio Galloni, Wine Advocate (DEC/2010)
Four new releases of the flagship Dom Perignon are the highlights among these Champagnes from Moet & Chandon. There is a timeless elegance about Dom Perignon that I find comforting and reassuring, like a favorite restaurant or food. For that reason, nothing could have prepared me for the Champagnes I tasted recently with Chef de Caves Richard Geoffroy. While the 2002 Dom Perignon and 1996 Dom Perignon OEenotheque are both for the most part representative of what readers have come to expect from this house, the 2000 Dom Perignon Rose and 1990 Dom Perignon Rose OEenotheque are wines that push the envelope and push it hard. I can’t think of another winemaker at a Grande Marque who is willing to take these kinds of risks by turning well-established conventions on their head. Much of what I tasted reminded me of the experimental, searching spirit that defines so many of the smaller-production, artisan Champagnes being made today. As the saying goes ‘no guts no glory’ and there is plenty of both here. These wines are nothing short of magnificent.Rating 97 - Antonio Galloni, Wine Advocate (DEC/2010)
Its complexity was immediately apparent on the bouquet, offering butterscotch, toast and mineral elements. An extremely well balanced '96, without the high-acid profile of the vintage, the flavours evoked candied citrus, seashore and smoke, reminding me of a great Corton-Charlemagne. Rating 96 - Bruce Sanderson, Wine Spectator
Disgorged 2008, this is wonderfully meaty, substantial wine still with the vintage's marked acidity but now tamed and counterbalanced by much more flesh and creaminess. Nothing remotely soft about this but lots of struck match character still and ramrod straight in structure. Should go on for many a long year but the texture is fantastic - just the merest hint of brioche too. A majestic, rather intellectual wine. Rating 19/20 - Jancis Robinson MW, www.jancisrobinson.com (AUG/2011)
Winery Tasting Notes
The year was full of contrasts and the summer changeable, with the wetter periods never quite making up for the earlier hydric deficit. Eventually, in the month before grape-picking, it was as much the spells of hot weather as the influence of north-easterly winds that led to the original maturity of the vintage.
The praline rapidly combines with citron and dried figs. Darker underlying iodine and peaty notes also emerge.
There is an apparent paradox, with concentration and movement vying for ascendancy. The structure of the wine is tense and assertive. Its energy, almost tactile, is contained for a moment before vibrating and exploding. Its opulence then becomes superbly persistent, trenchant and persuasive.